Paneer Lababdar is a popular and delightful North Indian curry made with lots of paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese) and cashew-based spicy onion tomato gravy.
Luscious paneer cubes dunked in a creamy and delicious onion tomato gravy makes this paneer curry worth overindulging. This restaurant-style classic, tasty and creamy curry dish tastes best with Indian flatbreads like garlic naan, plain roti, laccha paratha, or with paneer pulao.
Make restaurant-style creamy and delicious paneer lababdar with this easy step-by-step recipe and video.
Paneer is an essential part of Indian cuisine, and it is loved by all. Whenever there is a party, a wedding, a get-together or any celebration, paneer curries are a must.
And why not? Because this protein-rich Indian cottage cheese not only has many health benefits but it also makes the extraordinarily delightful dishes from appetizers to main dishes which are not only crowd-pleasing but would also shine your dinner table.
The great thing about this Indian cottage cheese is that making it at home is super simple and easy. If you want to know how to make paneer at home then you can check out our homemade paneer recipe.
What is the meaning of lababdar?
Lababdar is a Mughal word, and Indian dishes which are named as lababdar are an influence from Mughlai cuisine. There is no exact translation of this word, ‘Lababdar’. It is used for dishes which are extremely rich and extremely desired.
What is Paneer Lababdar?
Paneer Lababdar is an authentic Punjabi curry which is a rich, satiating and delightful curry dish where paneer cubes are cooked together with luscious, creamy and exotic gravy made with onions, tomatoes, cashews, melon seeds, lots of grated paneer, and aromatic spices.
Paneer lababdar has a generous amount of grated paneer in gravy. So as a result, you get the melt in mouth velvety and chunky texture in the gravy.
This paneer gravy dish served in many restaurants worldwide and is very popular for its uniquely rich textures and sumptuous flavors.
This easy to make restaurant-style Paneer lababdar curry is palatial, creamy and has flavorsome gravy.
You can make this flavorful, creamy, tasty curry for parties or get together, or when you simply want to pamper yourself with something very delicious and exceptional.
Why would you love Paneer Lababdar?
This extraordinary Restaurant Style Paneer Lababdar recipe makes an aromatic, delicious curry that is spicy, slightly sweet and absolutely swoon-worthy. In this curry, soft and succulent paneer cubes are coated in super creamy and rich, velvety and smooth gravy. The warming and delightful flavors of this curry are to die for.
How to make Paneer Lababdar
Making paneer lababdar at home is simple if you know how to make a basic onion tomato sauce. This is how you make restaurant-style paneer lababdar at home:
Step 1 - Make onion-tomato puree:
You simply start by toasting cumin seeds, dried red chilies, cinnamon sticks, green cardamoms, peppercorns, and cloves in hot oil. Then cashews and melon seeds are added to the oil. Then the spices are sauteed for a few seconds. After that ginger, garlic, onions, green chilies are added to the oil, and sautéed for a few minutes. Next, tomatoes, salt, and red chili powder are added to the pan. This mixture is then cooked covered with some water. Once the tomatoes are softened this mixture is kept aside to cool. After cooling, this is blended into a smooth puree. Onion tomato puree is ready.
Step 2 - Make Gravy:
Some oil and butter heated in a pan. Then ginger juliennes are sauteéd in oil butter mixture. Next, red chili powder and turmeric powder are added to the oil and dry masala powers are toasted in oil for a few seconds. Then the prepared puree is added to this pan along with some water. This mixture is then cooked covered for a few minutes. Then all the remaining spices, grated paneer, salt, and sugar are added to this gravy. And this is again cooked covered for few minutes. Finally, the cream is added to this gravy.
Step 3: Add paneer:
Paneer cubes are added to the gravy and it is cooked covered for few minutes. Finally, a garnish of coriander leaves and paneer lababdar is ready to serve.
The full detailed recipe with clear instructions is available in the recipe box on this page.
Some popular paneer curries you may love:
Paneer Lababdar Ingredients
Paneer Lababdar recipe is made with easily available kitchen ingredients. Here are the ingredients:
- Whole spices (dried red chilies, cumin seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon sticks, green cardamoms, peppercorns, and cloves)
- Melon Seeds
- Green chilies
- Powdered spices (kashmiri red chili powder, turmeric powder, kasuri methi, cumin powder, coriander powder, and garam masala powder)
What to serve with Paneer Lababdar?
Here are some exotic meal ideas to serve your homemade exotic paneer lababdar:
Can I freeze paneer lababdar?
Yes, you can easily freeze paneer lababdar curry. To freeze, transfer cooled curry in a freezer-safe container and freeze it for up to 1 month. Simply thaw this at room temperature and reheat in a microwave or stove when you want to eat it.
The flavors of this curry tend to get milder when you freeze it. To amp-up the flavors, you can pour some tempering of oil butter while reheating this curry. To make tempering add some cumin seeds to hot butter and oil. When the seeds start to sizzle, turn-off the heat and add some garam masala powder and Kasuri methi. Toast masala powders for a few seconds and add this tempering to reheated paneer lababdar curry.
Can I make paneer lababdar curry ahead of time?
Yes, it is possible to make this curry in advance. In fact, this is a great option to make this curry a day before, especially when you are having a party at home. This way you will save a lot of time on the D-day.
You can refrigerate paneer lababdar in 2 ways.
First way: Refrigerate the curry and store for up to 2 days. sprinkle some garam masala and drizzle with some ghee or melted butter right before reheating and serving.
Second way: Make the gravy and refrigerate without adding paneer cubes. When you want to serve, add the paneer cubes and sprinkle with some garam masala powder and drizzle with some melted ghee and butter. Give it a mix and cook covered for 3-4 minutes.
What is the difference between Paneer Lababdar, Shahi Paneer, Kadai Paneer, and Paneer Butter Masala?
They all are different curries with slightly similar gravies. The subtle difference is in the ingredients and cooking style.
- Paneer Lababdar has grated paneer added in the gravy along with the paneer cubes giving it a very nice rich and chunky texture.
- Kadai Paneer gravy is a slightly spicy curry where Kadai masala is added to the basic onion tomato masala. This paneer curry also has onions and capsicum.
- Shahi paneer is on the bit sweeter side since it has slightly more sugar. The gravy of shahi paneer is super silky and smooth.
- Paneer Butter Masala or Butter Paneer is a rich and creamy curry where paneer is cooked buttery tomato-based gravy.
Tips and variations to make the best Restaurant Style Paneer Lababdar at home:
- Always use the best quality fresh paneer when making Paneer Lababdar. It’s because it makes the best tasting paneer lababdar. So if possible, use fresh homemade paneer.
- However, if you don’t have time to make homemade paneer then you can surely use store-bought paneer. If you are using store-bought paneer and you think it is a bit hard, then simply soak it in warm water for about 15-20 minutes. Drain and then cut into cubes and add it to the gravy. This soaking would make paneer softer.
- The addition of cream makes this paneer and cashew-based gravy richer and it also balances the spicy flavors in the curry. So I usually add cream to paneer lababdar recipe, but this is completely optional.
- This is a rich curry which is usually cooked in butter or ghee. I cooked this gravy in the mixture of butter and oil. If you don’t want to add butter, then you can certainly use oil.
- I have added cashews and melon seeds to the puree. You can add other nuts and seeds like almonds and poppy seeds.
- The addition of sautéed ginger juliennes in oil+butter brings out more flavours and aroma. So it is advisable to add ginger juliennes.
- I have used unsalted butter here, but you can replace it either with ghee or salted butter. If using salted butter, make sure to taste the gravy before adding salt to it.
- I have added cream which has 15% milk fat content. This is because it adds the desired richness and it is not too heavy. You can either choose to add low-fat cream or heavy cream. The choice is up to you.
- Fresh tomatoes taste best in this gravy. That’s why I have used freshly chopped tomatoes for making onion tomato gravy. If you want to use the diced tomatoes or tomato puree, then you can swap tomatoes with 1 cup of diced tomatoes or 3/4 cup of tomato puree.
- I used kashmiri dried red chilies. Do not skip dried red chilies as they provide a unique flavor and a beautiful color.
- Adding some kind of a sweetener is a must in this recipe.I have added sugar. You can swap sugar with honey or maple syrup.
- I have used Kashmiri red chili in this recipe because it is mild in taste and gives a nice color to the gravy. If you want, you can use regular chili powder Instead of Kashmiri red chili powder.
- The addition of Kasuri methi in paneer lababdar adds a nice aroma and flavor to this curry which is beyond delicious. It creates a huge difference in flavor profile, so it is highly recommended not to skip adding it in the curry.
- For the best experience, sprinkle curry with a handful of grated paneer and drizzle with some cream.
- Add a drizzle of melted ghee or butter at the end of the process to make this curry taste even richer in taste.
Paneer Lababdar Recipe (Step-by-step photo instructions)
How to make onion tomato puree:
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan over medium heat. Once hot, add cumin seeds and dried red chilies.
- Sauté for a few seconds and add cinnamon sticks, green cardamoms, peppercorns, and cloves.
- Sauté for few more seconds or until they release the aroma.
- Add cashews and melon seeds to the pan and sauté for a few seconds.
- Next, add garlic cloves, ginger, green chilies, and chopped onions. Sauté for 3 minutes.
- Add chopped tomatoes and mix well.
- Also, add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder and stir well.,
- Pour 1/2 cup of water mix well again. Cook covered for 6-7 minutes or until tomatoes are softened and turn pulpy.
- Uncvoer. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool completely.
- Once cooled, add the sautéed onion-tomato mixture to a mixer/blender jar.
- Blend well to make a fine and smooth puree. The onion-tomato puree is ready. Keep it aside.
How to make Paneer Lababdar gravy:
- Heat Add 1 tablespoon oil and 2 tablespoons butter to a large pan. Let the butter melt.
- Once butter is melted, add bay leaf and julienned ginger to it. Sauté for a few seconds over medium heat.
- Add Kashmiri red chili powder, and turmeric powder. Mix well and sauté spice powders for a few seconds.
- After that, onion tomato puree along with 1/2 cup water to it. Mix until everything is well combined.
- Cover the pan with the lid and cook for 5-6 minutes over medium heat.
- Open the lid and add garam masala powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, and Kasuri methi. Mix everything well.
- Add sugar. Also add salt, if needed. Mix everything well and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Then add grated paneer and give it a mix.
- Cover the pan again with the lid and cook for 3-4 minutes over medium-low heat.
- Remove the lid and mix everything well. Add cream and mix well.
- Next, add paneer cubes and mix them again.
- Cover the pan with the lid and cook for 3-4 minutes over medium-low heat.
- Add cilantro and mix gently. Turn off the stove and keep the pan covered for 3-4 minutes.
- Paneer lababdar is ready. Serve hot with naan, roti, or paratha.